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Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sebelius rejects government takeover of health care system

May 7, 2009

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— The Obama administration’s senior health care official on Wednesday flatly rejected the idea of the government taking over the nation’s medical insurance system, saying the Obama administration does not want to assume management of health care coverage.

Kathleen Sebelius, in her first appearance before Congress since being confirmed as secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, said the administration wanted a so-called “public plan option” to encourage competition, not create a monopoly.

“Dismantling the private market and having an entirely public option, a single-payer system, I think is not something that the president supports,” Sebelius told the House Ways and Means Committee.

At the same time, she reaffirmed Obama’s commitment to creating a government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers — both to help cover the more than 46 million Americans currently without insurance and to encourage cost containment and better programs.

“Competition helps to promote innovation. It helps promote best practices and also can help to lower costs,” the former Kansas governor and state insurance commissioner said.

Sebelius’ testimony came as the Obama administration worked to defuse the politically explosive debate over creating a so-called public plan as part of a health system overhaul.

Many Republicans — as well as insurers — contend that a public plan would drive private insurance companies out of business, a claim repeated Wednesday.

“The rhetoric coming from the administration sounds good, sounds familiar — ‘If you like what you’ve got, you can keep it. We’re going to have more choice, more competition in health care,’” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Sebelius. “But when you look at what is being advocated here, in particular a public plan option, it just seems ... you’re embracing contradictory principles.”

Sebelius responded that state governments for years have offered government employees a choice between a public insurance program and private insurance plans for their health care coverage.

“It can work very effectively, and does work very effectively,” she said, indicating that such arrangements could be a model for overhauling insurance markets nationally.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

A single-payer plan is not "government-run" healthcare. Doctors, clinics and hospitals would continue to be independently run-- certainly no less independent than in the current system, but much more fair and comprehensive, as well as cheaper and more efficient.

average 5 years, 7 months ago

So, a government-run insurer who can't turn people down, and private insurers who can? Kinda like private schools who can pick-and-choose students, and public schools which can't.

Socialize the losses, privatize the profits. Same old song, second verse.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Until Barry tells her different, anyhow.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 7 months ago

15% of those living in America, legal or otherwise, do not have health insurance (46 million ÷ 300 million).

When considering the national population, 5% of us can afford to purchase health insurance but choose not to.

Another 5% qualify for Medicaid but for some reason have not enrolled.

A final 5% of the country is not in poverty but cannot afford to purchase health insurance, or their employer does not cover them. We need to find a way to assist that 5% of the country without upending healthcare choice for the other 95% of us.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Your "choice" is mythical, STRS. Single-payer would actually increase choice, since you could go to any healthcare provider, not just the ones your insurance company forces you to go to.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 7 months ago

bozo,

But I'm not forced to go to any healthcare provider now. You and I and everyone else can pay to see the physician of our choice.

And your version of government-run healthcare would remove my choice to opt out of paying into your collectivist health plan. Am I missing something with that?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

We're all forced to pay into the current system, STRS-- any time you buy anything from any company who provides health insurance, you're paying into the system. That's one of the major reasons US automakers are in such bad shape right now.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 7 months ago

That's apples and oranges, bozo.

With your plan, I would have no choice but pay into a nationalized government healthcare program, even though I believe it would result in subpar care, a drop in healthcare innovations, and a greater personal cost to me and my family.

If our government continues to confiscate more and more of our GDP to fund spending programs, we won't last long as the world's most prosperous nation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"With your plan, I would have no choice but pay into a nationalized government healthcare program,"

Are you paying for insurance now? If you're an average American, or even well above average, it's likely that a single-payer system would get you better coverage for less money.

"even though I believe it would result in subpar care, a drop in healthcare innovations, and a greater personal cost to me and my family."

Well, that's called paranoia, STRS. That's an issue you should take up with our mental healthcare provider (assuming your insurance covers that, and it mostly likely doesn't.)

"If our government continues to confiscate more and more of our GDP"

I'll gladly have the government "confiscate" half as much money from me as private insurers do, and get better access to healthcare to boot.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

It won't kill the insurance industry. What it will kill is the $1.2 trillion tax dollar gravy train on an annual basis that comes from those 60% of insured paid with our tax dollars. That is the over riding concern.

How can HR 676 kill the insurance industry? There is: Life Insurance Auto Insurance Home Insurance Hail Insurance Flood Insurance Hurricaine Insurance Employers Insurance Renters Insurance Photographers Insurance Sound Equipment Insurance Annuities Retirement Investments Property Insurance Food Service Insurance Landscape Maintenance Insurance Tree Trimmers Insurance All sorts of contractor insurance Outdoor Concert Insurance Boaters Insurance Fishing Industry Insurance Trucking Industry Insurance the list goes on and on and on

  • Insuring auto loans
  • Insuring Credit Card Payments - talk about a gravy train

*Insuring the guitars of Eric Clapton,Bob Dylan,George Harrison,Tom Petty,Peter,Paul and Mary,Willie Nelson,Texas Playboys,Johnny Cash,Elvis Presley,BB King,Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee etc etc etc.

How in the world can the insurance industry be shut down? Impossible! There are all sorts of things people buy into such as extended warranties for electronics.

The insurance industry will not die anytime soon if ever. Of course those who have investments in the medical insurance gravy train will be the loudest screamers.The above list offers so many other choices for investment.

I'd say the insurance industry has its' hands in our pockets from so many angles. The above list is the short list.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

HR676 is the ONLY option being offered NOT connected to corporate american insurance. Politicians are still concerned for themselves and their election campaigns while you and I pick up the cost of their insurance. Each of the many politicians could easily afford to pay their own way. Yet you and I are doing so.

I cannot afford THEIR medical insurance. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay insurance for elected officials? They say paying for mine is not affordable. Then how is theirs affordable? Think about it. How many times are we paying considering the number of politicians in our lives?

All taxpayers need coverage, taxpayers need relief and big time reduction in cost.

Health care costs and facts:

http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"A single-payer plan is not “government-run” healthcare. Doctors, clinics and hospitals would continue to be independently run— certainly no less independent than in the current system, but much more fair and comprehensive, as well as cheaper and more efficient."

A single entity controlling all the payments is not running the system? Coming from anyone else, I would have said that was a delusional and moronic statement.

But coming from boohoozo, that would be redundant.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Make HR 676 available to all taxpayers and let them make the choice.

HR 676 National Health Insurance makes americans more employable opens doors for small business ventures.

What could possibly be more middle class american?

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

A family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

Let’s move into this plan slowly. Why not go into this matter that leaves the choice open to citizens. This program could begin by moving all of the following into the program and bringing those tax dollars with them. • everyone on social security and their dependents • all disabled veterans • all Iraq/Afghanistan veterans • all government employees including active duty military stationed stateside • all currently uninsured

What this approach does is leave open the choice for all others to either make the change or continue with their current insurance provider. This concept minimizes confrontation with insurance providers. Face it an HR 676 will save large amounts of tax dollars on teachers, all CITY,state and federal employees,vets and those currently uninsured.

So many would not venture off to becoming a small business entrepreneur due to the cost of maintaining insurance for their families so now opportunity knocks. Now we're talking long term economic growth for americans by way of long term employment.

Employers should not be forced to pay up. There are enough tax dollars available in the USA to cover the cost easily: 60% of insured are covered with taxes = a big slice of the pie Cut subsidies going to very wealthy industries = Another sizeable slice of the pie. Let's get them off welfare! Instead have those tax dollars care for americans thus attracting industry and new jobs at the same time which creates new economic growth. Cut defense budget 25%-50% = a healthy slice of the pie Implement 1 cent sales tax to supplement. This is one sales tax that would pay back to every taxpayer and their local community. What a great way to bring tax dollars home.

*WHY wouldn't TAXPAYERS want the choice to useTHEIR tax dollars to cover the expense of THEIR own medical insurance? What in the world is wrong with that? What could be more american? Again make HR 676 available to all taxpayers and let them make the choice

rhd99 5 years, 7 months ago

This administration is already a bitter pill to swallow. Yes, good idea, less capitalism, more socialism. Yeah, that will make us more prosperous, whatever!!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"A single entity controlling all the payments is not running the system? "

Certainly no more than it's "run" by those making the payments now. And those making the payments now have one primary responsibility, which is NOT delivering healthcare.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

In the USA without socialism there would be much less capitalism because big time corporate america have proven time and again they are a prime example of bad and mismanagement.

HR 676 would function like any other medical insurance group. The invoice would be negotiated before being paid like what happens everyday.

These insurance people are the largest whiners. These large whiners are one more good reason to kill special interest financing of our elections. Sen. Max Baucus has received an estimated $400,000 so how can he even participate? Yet he's the one who WILL NOT allow HR 676 on the table....hmmmmmmmmm. Throw him out of the discussions!!!

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Barry got a lot of money from Norman Hsu. Why is Barry even allowed to ride in Air Force One when it's buzzing NYC?

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 7 months ago

Insurers do not deliver healthcare, bozo, anymore than State Farm repairs crashed automobiles. What's your point other than you hate insurance providers?

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 7 months ago

And remember, friends, government-run healthcare is all about making you a mindless, easily-controlled automaton of the State. The more you depend on government, the easier you are to lead, right bozo?

Guys like bozo and merrill want to control your life. Don't let them.

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Certainly no more than it's “run” by those making the payments now. And those making the payments now have one primary responsibility, which is NOT delivering healthcare."

Like I said, delusional and moronic is redundant when referring to boohoozo's posts.

But herr klowne - you said it wasn't 'running' it at all. Pretty fast backpedaling, even for your little clown-tricycle.

feeble 5 years, 7 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight says…

15% of those living in America, legal or otherwise, do not have health insurance (46 million ÷ 300 million).

This data point reflects the 2004 uninsured and under insured numbers released by Census Bureau in 2005. These stats have certainly worsened over the last four years, if only due the economic downturn.

Even if we ignore the economic downturn, just going by growth estimate numbers from the CBO on population and uninsured Americans, we are looking at 16.4% of the population being completely uninsured by 2019.

We are actually doing better as country at providing some kind of coverage option for children, and I think there is still political will to see those levels improve further. I'm pretty curious to see how the numbers shakeout for the baby boomers (I, myself, am in gen x) as care for seniors tends to consume a large portion of healthcare dollars.

bad_dog 5 years, 7 months ago

"Insurers do not deliver healthcare, bozo, anymore than State Farm repairs crashed automobiles." STRS

Ever hear of an HMO?

"Unlike many traditional insurers, HMOs do not merely provide financing for medical care. The HMO actually delivers the treatment as well. Doctors, hospitals, and insurers all participate in the business arrangement known as an HMO."

http://www.agencyinfo.net/iv/medical/types/hmo-ppo-pos.htm

Also (somewhat ironically), I believe State Farm has used the very thing you cite as an example of something they don't do, i.e. using a network of repair facilities to control costs. While they aren't running the wrenches, sanders and spray guns themselves, they directed where you took your car and the amount paid to perform the repairs.

At the end of the day, I believe your primary concern is whether your car is properly and safely repaired on a timely basis.

camper 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure there are many employers large and small who feel they cannot (or necessarily should) provide health benefits to employees. In fact, as health care and insurance costs rise, we should continue to see more out-sourcing of jobs and more manufacturing and administrative cuts.

I'd rather see these jobs remain in the US, and anything to reduce the health care burden on employers would be great. A government insurance pool could provide a more even playing field for us.

One's health is always a roll of the dice. But I'd rather take my chances with a single payor system than the insurance biz.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

There are so many that feel they should have the right to buy very expensive insurance but that no else should have the right to buy insurance at a more practical rate that provides the same coverage as the very expensive insurance. HR 676 is that opportunity.

The greater majority are under uninsured which is not usually discovered until cancer or other catastrophic situation surfaces.

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

bad_dog (Anonymous) says…

"Also (somewhat ironically), I believe State Farm has used the very thing you cite as an example of something they don't do, i.e. using a network of repair facilities to control costs. While they aren't running the wrenches, sanders and spray guns themselves, they directed where you took your car and the amount paid to perform the repairs."

And you're saying what - that we should have a government bureaucracy 'directing' us where to bring our body and how much the docs will get paid for fixing it? No thanks.


It constantly amazes me that all the merrills and boohoozos and other loons buy into our Dear Leader's snake oil speal that coverage for all these uninsured people is going to be affordable. The socialized-medicine ranters are always touting those elderly and poor folks who can't get insurance, or those denied due to pre-existing condtions. You know - all the ones who tend to be less healthy that the private insurers can't make any money on? How is putting all these people in a pool going to be cheap?

And just one more thought before you continue with your delusions - if government-funded healthcare is so superior, if it's more efficient and saves on paperwork and doesn't deny/delay claims etc. etc.etc., -

then how come there are so many healthcare providers that don't accept Medicaid?

Hudson Luce 5 years, 7 months ago

notajayhawk writes "[i]t constantly amazes me that all the merrills and boohoozos and other loons buy into our Dear Leader's snake oil spiel that coverage for all these uninsured people is going to be affordable."

Health care for uninsured people is covered by increased hospital costs for those with (or without) insurance. If enough uninsured people show up with medical problems that have advanced to the point that they must be treated as emergencies, and are not able to pay, then in some areas, hospitals have closed their emergency room facilities, since hospitals are obliged by law to at least stabilize emergency cases so that they can be treated someplace else.

Another side effect of people being unable to affford health care lies in the spread of pandemics. It is no great surprise to see that the newest potential form of pandemic influenza has arisen in Mexico, with its large population of immune-suppressed poor. The US is comparatively better off, for the present, but if this pandemic takes hold amongst the uninsured here, watch out, because a lot of these people have low-skill or unskilled labor jobs. The next fast food meal you buy may have an extra added kick to it, because the food was handled by someone who didn't have access to health care, and couldn't afford to call in sick and miss a day's pay, so they came in sick... and coughed, and microscopic particles landed on your burger. You ate the burger, and now you're sick, too. Or maybe they covered their mouth with their hands and coughed, and then touched the burger... Or maybe they work at a hospital as a janitor, and a second job at a restaurant, and they don't have health care benefits because it's too expensive for the employers. It doesn't take much, just a sneeze or a cough, and someone else gets the flu.

Finally, third-party health insurers have one duty, and one duty only, and that is to their shareholders, to provide a return on invested funds. This is by law, both statutory and case law. If you'll notice, the stock and bond markets haven't been doing too well lately. Some insurance companies have been rendered insolvent by the failure of their investments, like AIG, the largest insurer in the country, which was bailed out by a massive infusion of taxpayer dollars, which come out of every taxpayers' pocket. In the case of single-payer, where the Government is the insuror, there are no stockholders to be paid, and no earnings growth to be expected or accounted for. At this point, with the national debt at $13 trillion, with deficits of $1 trillion to $2 trillion a year for at least the next five years, it may soon become impossible for the Government to pay for anything, including Social Security, Medicare, or the defense budget, even if income taxes are doubled. This could be the reason that Obama does not favor single-payer, at least for non-governmental and non-military people.

bad_dog 5 years, 7 months ago

notajay-the purpose for my comment to STRS was not to advocate for anything, rather it was written a) because STRS was apparently misinformed and b) because the very example he/she provided was also inaccurate.

With an HMO you are directed to a group of health care providers (the network) and the HMO detemines how they are compensated via contractual negotiations with those providers. That's remarkably similar to the scenario you seem to detest when provided through a governmental entity.

No one knows how an alternative system will be structured or compensated unless/until legislation is drafted. Until that time all the fear mongering as well as the purported benefits are based on mere speculation.

Again, whether it is your car or your body, I believe your primary concern is adequate access to care delivered on a safe and timely basis.

streamfortyseven, while I agree with much of your post. keep in mind that many life and health insurers are mutual companies and do not issue stock. They owe a duty to their policy holders and not to the stock market. The policy holders benefit from profitable operations through lower premiums. While many such companies chose to "de-mutualize", that decision was driven by their desire to access capital through stock sales. Also, by law and regulation (statutory accounting practices to ensure consistency in financial reporting) the primary concern is protecting the interests of the public by ensuring insurance companies have the financial ability to pay claims when due-not to deliver profits to stock holders. If a given stock company is not considered profitable enough or makes poor investment decisions, they answer to stock holders through derivative lawsuits, removal of board members/company officers or because the stock holder sells the stock and moves to more profitable investments.

Hudson Luce 5 years, 7 months ago

If the stock company is chartered in Delaware, shareholder derivative suits are extremely difficult and costly to maintain, prove, and win (not to mention the extreme difficulty of obtaining meaningful and accurate information via discovery and interrogatories). Same case for removal of board members or company officers, it's like doing a hostile takeover. On top of which, there's the business judgment rule, which shields directors and offciers from liability resulting from decisions that they make as to the running of their business. The conduct must be particularly egregious not to be covered by this rule. Law and regulation are only as effective as the regulatory agencies make them, and for the Bush Administration, as has been shown by the activities in the banking and investment professions, the SEC has been asleep at the switch (cf. Bernard Madoff). Security Benefit Life in Topeka seems to have had a surprisingly large exposure to subprime mortgage backed instruments and appears now to be in trouble, for a case in point.

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